I received my BA in Biology from Skidmore College in 1999 and worked as a conservation biologist specializing in butterflies and habitat protection for The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. I went on to work as an educator and ecotourism guide in Central America and Fiji with Blue Academy, a company I co-founded, while also teaching at Monte del Sol, a charter school in Santa Fe, NM.
I later moved to Denver where I attained a Master in Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in Environmental Policy, Management, and Law at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) while working at the Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development Policy as a policy researcher and advocate.
In 2007 I was awarded a National Science Foundation IGERT grant to pursue my PhD at UCD’s School of Public Affairs through the interdisciplinary Sustainable Urban Infrastructure program. During these years I authored and co-authored articles and reports on local climate and sustainability policy, green and new energy economy job growth, policy process theories, and the role of science and technical information in policy-making. Additionally during this time, as a member of the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems at UCD I worked on teams completing some of the first greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans for local governments in Colorado. Lastly as an adjunct instructor, I taught classes in the MPA program, including “Governance and Institutions” and “Public Administration and Public Service”. My dissertation was entitled “An Examination of Policy and Political Learning: A Study of Colorado Climate and Energy Policy Actors”.
In addition to my academic work, in 2009 I participated as a Fellow in the Denver Community Leadership Forum, a leadership development program focused on building skills and knowledge related to community engagement, conflict management, and collaborative leadership, as well as the Colorado State Political Leaders Fellowship, the Center for Progressive Leadership’s leadership development program focused on values based messaging, fundraising and media training, and campaign planning.
I have worked and volunteered on dozens of political campaigns in CO over the years and I served as a member of the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations: New Era Colorado, an organization dedicated to fostering political awareness and activity among young adults in Colorado, and Colorado Conservation Voters, an organization that works to educate the public about the environmental policy-related positions of candidates and elected official and to hold elected officials accountable for their environmental records. From 2007-2010 I was also a member of the Colorado Municipal League’s Energy and Sustainability Subcommittee.
In 2010 & 2011 I was also the Sustainability Director for the Auraria Higher Education Center, where I directed all greenhouse gas inventory work, climate action planning, and other sustainability projects on the 50,00-person Auraria Campus (the largest urban campus in the nation) in downtown Denver. Also, I was appointed in 2010 by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board, which provides overall policy guidance, coordination and advice to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on pollution prevention activities.
In late 2011 I moved to Santa Barbara with my wife Chandra so that she could attain her doctorate in Sociology at UCSB. I worked as a Senior Planner on the Sustainability and Climate Change team for Pacific Municipal Consultants leading greenhouse gas inventories and climate action planning projects for local governments clients before leaving to launch my own consulting company. I have worked with dozens of local governments, private companies, nonprofits, and educational institutions on climate action and sustainability planning as well as energy conservation strategies.
In 2013 I became a full-time faculty member and for the next three years taught in the Department of Policy Studies at California Lutheran University. I taught classes in the Master in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program such as: Introduction to Public Administration, Sustainable Development Policy, Organizational Theory, Research Methods for Public Administration, Implementation & Analysis of Public Policy, and an Energy & Climate Change Policy.
In 2014 I graduated from the Ventura County Leadership Academy (VCLA). A county-centered leadership development program focused on critical issues in the region related to education, public safety, economic development, health care, agriculture, the environment, transportation, as well as state and local government. In June 2014 I was appointed to the VCLA Steering Committee and Curriculum Subcommittee. In that same month I was also appointed by the Ventura City Council to serve on the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of the City of Ventura. The City’s Housing Authority is dedicated to providing and maintaining affordable housing for city residents.
My wife Chandra Russo and I both joined the faculty at Colgate University in 2016. I am currently the Burke Endowed Chair in Regional Studies and a Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies.
When I am not working I enjoy fly fishing, hiking & backpacking, SCUBA diving, birding, (re)learning to surf, and being outdoors in general.